COVID, as everyone knows, sparked a surge in telehealth usage and shone a spotlight on the future of telehealth for a brief while. Medical care has become more accessible and easy thanks to video consultations and other virtual care services. However, telehealth utilization is presently on the decline. So, what does the future hold for telehealth?
- There are several advantages to telehealth for both clinicians and patients:
- Access to care is being made more widely available.
- Patient expenses are lower.
- Workflow efficiency has improved in the practice.
- More patient participation with remote monitoring in some instances
- Telehealth has shown to be an excellent fit for primary care and mental health services in particular. With virtual care and, in certain circumstances, remote monitoring, they were able to quickly adjust their operations to meet the requirements of patients during the epidemic.
Telehealth Use Increases
- Telehealth visits accounted for over 35% of all visits in June 2020, according to CDC research, and “telehealth visits fell as the number of new COVID-19 cases decreased but plateaued as the number of cases increased.”
- The number of primary care physicians offering telehealth services quadrupled between 2016 and 2019, according to Meg Barron, vice president of digital innovation at the American Medical Association (AMA). Despite the fact that telehealth use has decreased after the epidemic, more practitioners and patients intend to continue using and increasing virtual services in the future.
- According to a McKinsey research, telehealth utilization is now 38 times greater than it was prior to the epidemic.
- Patients’ expectations regarding telemedicine are being closely monitored by hospitals and clinicians. “Ninety-two percent of participants indicated their organizations are tracking and assessing patient usage of telehealth,” according to a hospital survey conducted by the Center for Connected Medicine.
- The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has identified changes that have occurred as a result of the epidemic and those they feel should be maintained until the pandemic has been officially proclaimed “gone.”
- HIPAA adaptability
- Changes in Medicare and Medicaid policies
- Requirements for licensing
- Controlled substance prescriptions
Usage of telehealth is declining or leveling off.
- According to a new poll by KLAS Research and the Center for Connected Medicine, telehealth patient visits have plateaued at 20% or less. According to a recent study published in Telemedicine and e-Health, even Gen Z patients feel that telehealth’s usefulness is restricted to mental health, colds, and flus. In addition, over half of respondents did not believe virtual consultations were as successful as in-person appointments.
Current Telehealth Patterns
- The tension between traditional visits and telemedicine is still present. Many patients, particularly in general care and behavioral health, prefer telemedicine as an alternative. They had become accustomed to telehealth services over the previous year and are now disappointed that they are no longer available. However, at least in the medium term, two major obstacles are impeding the development of telehealth. Many states impose licensing limitations on the use of telehealth beyond state boundaries. Many physicians, according to the McKinsey poll and others, are unwilling to give telehealth services at a lower cost than in-person treatments. CMS and other payers, on the other hand, have stated that they anticipate reduced charges. These issues will be addressed in the future if patient choices and requirements prevail. In the meanwhile, anticipate a patchwork of telehealth services to continue to emerge, depending on your state and payer.
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